A national holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland, St. Patrick's Day commemorates Bishop Patrick, the Englishman who brought Christianity to the Irish about 432 AD. Through an evolution that not even Darwin could make sense of, it's turned into an occasion for American adults to consume green beer and for kids to pinch anyone who isn't wearing green.
Warm up with a cold one at an Irish bar. You could stroll a few blocks on Fairfax Avenue and go from Molly Mallone's (575 S. Fairfax Ave., L.A.,  935-1577) to Tom Bergin's (840 S. Fairfax Ave., L.A.,  936-7151). Molly Mallone's features live music (tonight's band is Twilight Lords; Garrison White appears Friday and Saturday) while Tom Bergin's is more of an Irish pub/sports bar where the names of regulars are featured on clovers tacked to the walls.
If you thought Irish cops were an East Coast thing, it may be worth noting that the LAPD and the L.A. City Fire Department are the hosts of the city's second annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in downtown L.A.
Starting at 11:30 a.m. at Flower Street, the parade heads east on 5th Street, south on Grand Avenue, east on 7th Street, and north on Olive Street to Pershing Square. Bagpipers, Irish dancers, marching bands and the Wells Fargo stagecoach will be part of the procession. Afterward, L.A.'s own contemporary Irish band, the Young Dubliners, gives a free concert starting about 12:30 p.m. And if it's your lunch hour, don't worry. McCormick & Schmick's will have Irish food for sale.
Then get your fill of green beer at the Yard House (Triangle Square, 1875 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa,  642-0090, and in Shoreline Village, 401 Shoreline Drive, Long Beach,  628-0455), which will dye two on-tap brews green starting Friday. The other 248 taps in Long Beach (178 in Costa Mesa) will remain their usual amber color. Menu specials for both days include shepherd's pie and corned beef and cabbage.
More Irish fare--including cold potato soup, lamb stew and Kilkenny bread pudding--will be available at St. Paddy's Day meals at the Regency Club (10900 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.,  208-1443). Restaurateur Jimmy Murphy is hosting lunch and dinner (peppered salmon, roast chicken and Irish trifle) there, along with bagpipes, an Irish tenor and step dancing.
Trinity Irish Dance Company--the group that insists it pioneered the new style of step dance that became world famous in "Riverdance"--comes to Royce Hall (UCLA campus in Westwood, $20-$35,  825-2101) for 2 and 8 p.m. shows. They'll perform new works--including one that combines step dance with swing and disco--and signature pieces like "Celt Thunder."
At the Irvine Barclay Theatre (4242 Campus Drive, Irvine. $26-$30.  854-4646), the Irish band Solas performs at 8 p.m. The group has headlined music festivals around the country, and frontman Seamus Egan performed on the "Dead Man Walking" soundtrack and wrote Sarah McLachlan's hit song, "I Will Remember You."
Dublin's Traditional Irish Cabaret at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. $30-$40.  300-4345) offers a sampler of all of the above: A little singing, a little clogging, and a lot of laughs from comedian Noel V. Ginnity. The shows are at 2 and 6 p.m.